Five Ways to Connect, Measure, and Achieve Improved Population Health By Justin Bellante

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1 Five Ways to Connect, Measure, and Achieve Improved Population Health By Justin Bellante Create a wellness program to connect with your member population, measure individual and group health metrics, and empower people to achieve their health-improvement goals. Americans are increasingly enthusiastic about wellness. We know that our lifestyle choices impact our health and many of us are taking positive steps to prevent chronic diseases. For example, 70 percent of respondents to a recent Harris Poll said that making personal health changes was their top current health priority and 34 percent of them said that preventive care was the most important characteristic of quality in the health care system. 1 For individuals, preventive care typically involves visiting a doctor for regular checkups and going to a lab for annual blood work. But these routine activities become much more difficult to manage when they involve a large population whether its employees within a corporation, patients in an accountable care organization, or members of a health plan. Wellness programs for these groups continue to grow in popularity. However, to be effective, wellness administrators need technology to automate repetitive functions, manage the consumer experience, as well as to exchange health data among participating wellness vendors, healthcare providers, and health plans Transamerica Center for Health Studies Survey

2 If your organization has a wellness program, ask yourself these questions: How well automated is our wellness program? Do we have a technology platform to streamline the health measurement and improvement process? Do we define success by simple participation or by demonstrable outcomes? Have we systematized the exchange of electronic health records among wellness vendors? Here are five proven techniques for automating your wellness program, improving the health of your population, and generating positive returns on your wellness investments. Design a Great User Experience Health screening is the foundation of today s wellness programs. Biometric tests and health risk assessments (HRAs) provide a baseline for measuring improvement. But you need to make it easy for participants to sign up, schedule appointments, get screened, check results, and take the right steps towards better health. Today s consumers insist on user-friendly experiences for navigating healthcare processes. This implies technology that can move their data securely between systems as well as help them navigate those systems. Start with convenience. The most successful wellness programs offer several methods for gathering biometric data. Participants can choose to order an at-home test kit, attend an onsite-screening event, confer with their personal physicians, or visit a nearby pharmacy or lab. That s where technology comes in. Regardless of which method they choose, they should enjoy a cohesive experience for ordering tests, scheduling appointments, receiving reminders, and viewing results. They should receive intuitive lab reports that contain interactive charts and graphs so it is easy to monitor year-over-year trends. By providing a seamless and positive user experience, a wellness technology platform will increase member engagement. It should also make it easy to navigate healthcare processes, whether it s scheduling a lab appointment or following up with a caregiver. It should offer secure, personal health dashboards for each participant, along with program management dashboards that enable administrators to monitor the progress of the population as a whole. All of these front-end assets should be designed for mobile phones, tablets, and computers.

3 Shift from Activities to Outcomes Until recently, wellness programs were focused mainly on maximizing participation in annual health screening services and other wellness activities. Once administrators have helped their populations achieve higher engagement levels, they need to shift their focus to improving health outcomes. Outcomes-based wellness programs not only require participation; they also require individuals to achieve specific goals and health metrics. To easily execute these programs, wellness administrators need to be able to track activities, rewards, and incentives. They also need to verify that participants have made the appropriate next steps, which often involve interventions supplied by other wellness vendors. Your wellness technology platform should connect biometric screening results with individual risk profiles, and also make recommendations for each participant. For example, if a participant has borderline lab results and moderate risk factors, the system might suggest a follow-up appointment with a health coach or enrollment in a diet/weight loss program. In more extreme instances, the participant might be directed to a disease management program or prescription drug compliance program. All of these handoffs should be automatic, and the data should move with the patient. Use Incentives to Motivate Behavioral Change Rewards and incentives are the key to encouraging positive change. According to the Harris Poll cited above, 74 percent of Americans surveyed said they value a health care system that directly incentivizes healthy behavior through cash payouts or insurance premium discounts. During the first year of this type of wellness program, participants might earn monetary incentives simply by completing the screenings and wellness activities. In subsequent years, incentives can be based on whether their lab results fall within the healthy range. Employees might lower their health care premiums by passing a cotinine test, which proves that they are tobacco-free, and by keeping their glucose and cholesterol levels in check. In essence, employees should be incentivized for staying healthy.

4 Connect People to Targeted Interventions The primary thrust of a wellness program is to empower people to monitor vital health metrics and prevent chronic health conditions such as diabetes, cancer, hypertension, and heart disease. Tracking these metrics over time and matching that data with relevant experiences becomes the basis for achieving health improvement goals, both for individuals and for the member population. Eighty five percent of employers believe that implementing wellness and disease management programs leads to better control of health care costs. 2 But you need to automate these processes and orchestrate the handoffs so people know what to do next. A good wellness technology platform delivers targeted recommendations to each participant, including education curricula, health coaching, and participation in disease management programs. Some wellness companies are good at analyzing and managing data. Others are good at managing the user experience. You need a platform that can coordinate both if you want to successfully move people through complex healthcare processes. Enable Interoperability Among Stakeholders This brings us to one of the most important ingredients of a wellness platform: a versatile hub for securely managing and exchanging health data. Most employers procure services from multiple wellness vendors. However, less then one quarter of these vendors share wellness data among themselves to increase program effectiveness. 3 That leaves a lot of manual work for wellness administrators, and also results in many unanswered questions for participants. Data management technology is the answer. Your wellness technology platform should collect wellness data from biometric screening programs and health risk assessments, create electronic health records, and pass pertinent data to appropriate constituents including physicians, health coaches, exchanges, health plans, and health services companies. The data management layer is the most important part of the platform, and it must adhere to all pertinent security regulations, such as the HIPAA guidelines governing personally identifiable information. The platform should also generate aggregate program data so that wellness administrators can monitor population health trends and design better wellness programs in the future. These aggregate reports must preserve individual privacy, yet offer enough insight on an 2. Transamerica Center, op. cit. 3. BioIQ Wellness Trends survey (December 2014).

5 aggregated basis to enable employers to make adjustments to their health coverage and wellness incentives. In addition, the backend connections must be orchestrated by a technology platform that ensures a fluid interchange of wellness data among all pertinent stakeholders. The data hub should support prevailing standards for gathering health data, managing that data to ensure it meets industry-accepted formats, and moving the data securely among stakeholders. The participant experiences and the corresponding data should always be in sync. Conclusion To make wellness programs work, you must be able to engage members, track rewards/incentives, and monitor progress. A complete wellness technology platform connects people to measurement solutions, integrates lab results, and verifies outcomes. It serves as the central hub for sharing data, driving participation, and tracking wellness measures. Most importantly, it enables individuals to play an active role in their own care by monitoring vital health metrics. These activities are the foundation of good health, both for individuals and populations. About the Author Justin Bellante is the chief executive officer at BioIQ, a healthcare technology company based in Santa Barbara, California. Since the company s inception in 2005, he has helped guide BioIQ from initial concept to well-established company. He has solidified corporate direction and strategic partnerships, developed the BioIQ wellness technology solution, and built a culture that is passionate about innovation in healthcare. Today, thousands of employers and some of the nation s largest health plans use BioIQ s mature technology platform to measure individual and population health, manage health data, and improve compliance with healthcare quality standards. Prior to joining BioIQ, Mr. Bellante developed novel materials and testing platforms for Microelectromechanical Systems (MEMS) while pursuing his Ph.D. at the University of California, Santa Barbara. He was also a researcher in the Radiation and Reliability Physics organization at the Sandia National Laboratory and at the Microfabrication Facility within Case Western Reserve University (CWRU). Please visit to learn more. You can also contact (888) or for a demonstration.

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